Update, 1 p.m.: Gerber's suicide was just confirmed in a post on his Facebook profile. Headline and story have been changed to reflect this fact.
Another well-loved member of the L.A. film industry — documentary producer and digital-tech pioneer Brian Gerber — took his life this week by driving his car off the Angeles Crest Highway. (Famed director Tony Scott jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge just last week.)
According to Battalion Chief Ron Larriva of the L.A. County Fire Department, the LAPD and Sheriff's Department began searching Angeles Crest Highway for Gerber early this morning, after being informed by his family that he was distraught and thinking of running his car off a cliff in the area.
Around 7:30 a.m., Larriva says investigators found “a suicide note up on the rock” at mile marker 32, as well as a car that had plummeted 500 to 600 feet down the embankment into Angeles National Forest. “It must have happened late last night or early this morning,” Larriva says.
Inside the vehicle was a fatally injured 41-year-old Los Angeles resident, says Sheriff's Lieutenant Angela Shepherd, although she's “not releasing any names.”
TheWrap reports that, according to inside sources, the wrecked vehicle was Gerber's silver Prius:
Two individuals with knowledge of the case told TheWrap that the producer left a suicide note. Those same sources said the police have found Gerber's car in the Angeles Crest, but police would not officially confirm out of concern for Gerber's family.
Gerber was a founder and organizer for Digital Hollywood's big biannual content summit, which claims to “bring the world of content creators into the fold of digital production, marketing and technology.” The next one was scheduled for mid-October at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey.
His biggest production credits include The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio's global-warming documentary, and The Dungeon Masters.
The missing man has two young children with actress Arabella Field, who played small parts in National Treasure and Dante's Peak. Her 2010 TV show, Sex and the Austen Girl, was produced by Gerber.
The producer's friends, family and supporters have been flooding his Facebook page with updates and information, encouraging everybody to contact the media and police. They said he was depressed and had left a suicide note saying he was headed to Angeles Crest Highway. But around 11:50 a.m. today, a Facebook user named Amanda Copeland wrote:
“Brian has been found. Please stand by for the statement his family may wish to make about this.”
Presently, the LAPD will not release information on Gerber to anyone besides his immediate family. We will update with the latest word from law enforcement and the coroner as soon as we receive it.
Update: Around 12:50 p.m., the following statement was posted to Gerber's profile.
“Our worst fears regarding Brian Gerber have been confirmed. Brian's family thanks you for all the condolences, good thoughts, prayers and asks for your patience and understanding during this most difficult of times. Obviously they are overwhelmed with this situation and are asking for privacy. We will be in touch as soon as arrangements have been made for services.”
In response to the news, Facebook friend Lysa Heslov remembers him as a “a kind, wonderful and compassionate man” with “a smile that lit up the room.” And another friend, Brian Seth Hurst, writes: “I was always lifted by your smiling face, impressed by your knowledge and inspired by your integrity.”
Here he is giving an interview on documentary film The 11th Hour, circa 2007.